Planting Depth: 1/4"
Row Spacing: 18”-24”
Plant Spacing: 12”-18”
Days to Germination: 7-12 days
Germination Temperature: 70°-90°F
This Nightshade family member just loves the heat! To speed germination, soak the seed in warm water for an hour, then sow sparingly in flats or pots in sterilized seed starting mix. Provide light, heat and ventilation: bottom heat hastens germination. Two weeks after emergence (or when 2" tall), replant individual seedlings into 4" pots. Use richer-thanaverage soil mix and fertilize seedlings weekly. Eggplants need 8 to 10 weeks to achieve sufficient size to be tranplanted outdoors. Prepare your Eggplant bed in a hot spot with good drainage, adding lots of compost and/or well-rotted manure. Plant out when soil and air temperatures have thoroughly warmed. Create additional warmth (especially at night) if temperatures are expected to drop below 55°F by covering plants with cloches or other coverings to retain heat. Harvest Eggplants when the skin is thin and shiny, using a sharp blade.
An Ounce of Prevention
Young eggplant seedlings have little leaf surface to spare, and are especially vulnerable to flea beetle predation. Covering the bed with lightweight floating row covers as soon as you set out the plants will usually help.
Egging on Eggplant
Of all the nightshade family (Eggplant, Tomato, Pepper or Potato), Eggplant is the one that needs the most heat to produce an abundant harvest. If your climate is a chilly one, laying down black plastic on the soil will help the plants to set and ripen fruit. Just cut an "X" where each little transplant needs to go and set it in. If you use one of the "IRT" (infra-red transmitting) plastics, you'll speed progress even more.
Eggplants are beautiful to look at, with their large, dark-veined leaves and glossy fruits, especially when you grow a variety of colors--pink, red, white, green or the classic deep purple. Why not showcase them in planters? Since the soil in containers warms up faster, they’ll bear sooner than your in-ground plants, and if raised up off the ground, may escape early assaults by flea beetles as well. Try one or two in a whisky barrel, surrounded with curly parsley, dusty miller, and pink-flowered scented geraniums for a romantic look. Or blazing French Marigolds for the Mardi Gras effect.
Deer Resistant Seed Varieties
Frying Eggplant Slices--A Better Way
Salting slices of Eggplants and letting the liquid drain out of them is a good way to make them less spongy, so that they absorb less oil when frying. It is also said to draw out bitterness, though personally I don’t find well-grown eggplants especially bitter tasting. I salt one side and let them rest on paper towels, salted side down, for 20 minutes or so, then do the same for the other side. After that I rinse them under the tap, removing the salt and squeezing the slices hard. Then I fry them lightly in olive oil. I find that the water they do retain makes them cook beautifully, and the oil they absorb is just a light, flavorful coating.
There are many versions of the story behind Imam Bayildi, a Turkish Eggplant dish which translates as “the priest fainted”. In my favorite, the Eggplant soaked up so much oil that it consumed the Imam’s wife’s dowry, which consisted of great jugs of olive oil. Anyone who has fried Eggplant would find this quite plausible. The usual remedy is to salt Eggplant slices heavily before frying them and let them sit a while. This draws out water and somewhat reduces their porosity. I also squeeze them firmly as I rinse off the salt, so that they are flattened. They fry beautifully and soak up much less oil.